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EFAC Australia

Essentials

You might not have come across the term 'multi-level marketing', but you have certainly had it inflicted on you. The term specifically refers to business structures where the seller is compensated not just for the sales they make, but the sales that your contacts make too - the 'downstream effects'. This will be familiar to most people through networks like Amway or Tupperware, where people involved try to both sell their products to friends and convince them to become sellers, too. Multi-level marketing has been challenged, both morally and legally, for the way in which may sometimes be used to exploit small operators to generate profit. My own concern however, and the focus of this article, is not so much the 'multi-level' aspect as the 'marketing' strategies employed, particularly the implicit concept of using existing social networks to drive sales.

Does this sound familiar to you? Have you heard any of these lines recently?

The editor caught up with the new chair of EFAC Vic/Tas Phil Meulman earlier in the year to chat about his experience of accident recovery. Here's an edited interview transcript:

Phil, tell our readers what happened to you…
Last August (2008) was an ordinary month for me as an Anglican Minister. A day with preparation and meetings in various places in the city of Knox and then a meeting at St. Paul's Cathedral. I was running late - how odd for an Anglican minister to be running late! Rushing to cross the road I stepped out and suddenly saw a motorcycle accelerating rapidly towards me.

In that split-second moment I'm not sure what I decided to do - retreat or run? Whichever it was, I slipped and fell. I tried to get up but it was too late. The bike hit me with full force in my pelvis and back. Face down on Flinders street, I thought I was winded but could get up. The reality was that I could not move an inch.

Leviti­cus used to be the first book that Jewish chil­dren stud­ied in the syna­gogue. In the mod­ern Church it tends to be the last part of the Bible any­one looks at seri­ously. … “You shall love your neigh­bor as your­self” (Lev. 19:18) is the only memo­ra­ble maxim in what is to many an other­wise dull book. In prac­tice then, though not of course in the­ory, Leviti­cus is treated as though it does not really belong to the canon of sacred Scrip­ture.
So opens the land­mark com­men­tary by Gordon Wen­ham. My quest is to get books like Leviti­cus back on the agenda. This article is an oppor­tu­nity for me to offer you a quick refresher of its con­tents and rele­vance. And the pend­ing sea­son of Lent is one of many good oppor­tu­ni­ties when you might do the same for believ­ers around you, espe­cially in min­is­try con­texts which seek a formal, dis­tinc­tive series for the sea­son.
What follows is purely to stir up your theo­logi­cal enthu­si­asm and to set your crea­tive juices flowing. The sug­ges­tions will work well as a ser­mon series, but could easily be adapted for per­sonal devo­tions or group Bible studies or youth reflec­tions. (I'm yet to trial it as a chil­dren's pro­gram!)

One way to open ourselves afresh to the word of grace.
Read books on spiritual formation and you will be hard pressed to find any that list listening to the preaching of God's Word as a first-order spiritual discipline. It may be mentioned under the broader category of reading and studying the Bible. But listening to preaching deserves attention of its own.
This was clearly a crucial dimension of the early church's life-"They devoted themselves to the apostles' teaching and to the fellowship, to the breaking of bread and to prayer" (Acts 2:42). Certainly the leaders of the Reformation felt that way. They placed primary attention on public teaching and preaching. Karl Barth, writing to the well-educated West, regarded the proclamation of the Word as one of the three fundamental ways that people experience the life-changing Word of God.
In addition to biblical and theological aspects, we might consider some practical aspects of preaching-particularly expository preaching, preaching that strives to convey the meaning of biblical truth-that can help us see it as a vital spiritual discipline that humbly grounds us in the work and Word of God:

"Our challenge has usually been to help many churches to move back to better health. In reality though, the bigger issue is how to become more missionally effective. In my opinion this is the biggest challenge for all churches today, whether big, small, mainline or independent, seemingly strong or weak. All of this will require a significant shift in the leadership culture that is pre-dominant in many churches and church organization."

Access entire transcript: Changing Leadership for a Changing Church, Matthew Hale Public Library Lecture

Reflections on John 13:1-17
The episode recorded in John 13 of Jesus' washing the disciples feet is usually seen as an example of servant leadership. Of course it serves this purpose well, as Jesus says: “If I then, your Lord and Teacher, have washed your feet, you also ought to wash one another's feet. For I have given you an example, that you should do as I have done to you” (John 13:14-15). However, there is more to be gained from this footwashing exercise of servant leadership.
The setting of Jesus' actions is the upper room on the night he was betrayed. John introduces the scene with Jesus' reflection upon going to the cross. With a deliberate echo of the words of the Prologue (“he came unto his own, but his own received him not - but to all who did receive him, who believed on his name, he gave power to become children of God”), Jesus prepares to return to his Father, “having loved his own who were in the world, he loved them to the end” (13:1). Thus the immediate context is the death of Jesus and the application of that death to his disciples.

Bishop Michael Nazir Ali asserts that churches are called to engage in mission from everywhere to everywhere. By that I take him to mean that mission is to be at the heart of church life, that all Christians are called to be witnesses to Jesus in the words we speak and the lives we live wherever we live. But more than that, churches are called to have an involvement in both local mission and global mission.

In my experience if churches engage in mission at all they are locally focused and tend to leave the global to the enthusiastic few. However, as congregations recognise the primacy of their global nature and calling they will be far more effective in their local mission and outreach. As Bishop Lesslie Newbigin wrote in his 1994 book The Open Secret, “Mission is the proclaiming of God's kingship over all human history and over the whole cosmos. Mission is concerned with nothing less than all that God has begun to do in the creation of the world and of humankind. Its concern is not sectional but total and universal.'

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